Study Explores Possibility of a Female Viagra

WEDNESDAY, April 14 (HealthDay News) -- New research might be bringing science a bit closer to a female version of Viagra.

In a study that explored the underlying processes of female sexual arousal, British-based researchers say they have learned more about how new treatments might be developed to help women with sexual arousal disorder.

In tests on female lab animals, a team from the drug maker Pfizer found that electrical stimulation of the pelvic nerve increases blood flow to the genitalia. This effect was enhanced if the animals were given an experimental drug called UK-414,495, which is believed to block the breakdown of a chemical messenger that plays a crucial role in increasing blood flow during sexual arousal.

Blood flow to the vagina, labia and clitoris increases when a woman is sexually aroused. The increased blood flow causes the organs to swell and the vagina to relax, and also increases vaginal lubrication and genitalia sensitivity, according to background information in a news release about the study.

"Before this work, we knew surprisingly little about the processes that control all of these changes," lead researcher Chris Wayman said in the news release. "Now [that] we are beginning to establish the pathways involved in sexual arousal, scientists may be able to find ways of helping women who would like to overcome FSAD [female sexual arousal disorder]."

Women with FSAD find arousal difficult and their genital organs don't respond to sexual stimulation. The condition affects up to 40 percent of women of all ages, the study authors said.

"While the particular chemical compound studied in this research did not prove appropriate for further development, the implications of the research could lead to the development of a product in future," Wayman said in the news release.

The study findings were published in the April 13 online edition of the British Journal of Pharmacology.

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: British Journal of Pharmacology, news release, April 13, 2010